Middlebury to buy new ladder truck for fire department

Middlebury selectboard on Tuesday unanimously endorsed the fire department’s proposed purchase of a new ladder truck — along with related tools, radio technology and other equipment — for a total of $866,471 from a Wyoming-based vendor.
The company, HME, was the low bidder among three companies that vied for the contract to replace the Middlebury Fire Department’s largest and most expensive vehicle — its ladder truck. Firefighters and other Middlebury officials have spent more than two years determining whether to replace or repair the existing 1993 Pierce Arrow ladder truck, which has exceeded its anticipated 20-year lifespan and is currently damaged. It was last May that the swivel mount on top of the truck froze, thus preventing the ladder from rotating.
The HME bid for just the ladder truck (minus related equipment) was $825,100. Finishing out of the running were the Pierce and Smeal companies, which bid $937,913 and $853,797, respectively.
Middlebury Fire Department Asst. Chief Myron Selleck was part of a committee that evaluated the three bids based on an 83-item specifications list to ensure the town would get a quality product. The vehicle will be equipped with a 111-foot, rear-mounted steel ladder that will give firefighters good exterior access to the larger buildings in town in the case of a blaze.
“I believe we have created a good model for future apparatus committees,” Selleck said.
Fire Chief Dave Shaw confirmed the new ladder truck will be able to access repairs and maintenance at an HME center in nearby West Ossipee, N.H., thus assuaging some selectboard members’ concerns that the vehicle might have to be taken to Wyoming for any significant servicing needs.
“I think we have a good product,” Selectman Nick Artim said of the HME vehicle.
The fire department anticipates delivery of the vehicle, built to Middlebury’s specifications, by next fall.
In other action on Tuesday, the Middlebury selectboard:
• Received word that a new team of Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) officials will, on Oct. 11, unveil a revised schedule and work plan for the replacement of Middlebury’s two downtown rail bridges. Current plans call for the project to begin next spring and last into 2018. Middlebury officials raised concerns about the length of the project and what have been ongoing delays in getting the massive undertaking started. The new plan, to be explained at the selectboard’s Oct. 11 evening meeting, will set forth new time parameters and construction details for replacement of the Main Street and Merchants Row rail bridges, which are both more than 80 years old and are deteriorating at a rapid pace.
Middlebury officials also announced Tuesday that VTrans will set aside two temporary bridges that could be positioned within seven days if one or both of the downtown spans are deemed unsafe prior to construction.
• Heard from some Munson Road residents concerned about a local water main break and whether its repair is the financial responsibility of the town or those who are hooked up to it. After a lengthy debate, the board agreed that the town will repair the line and bill the expenses to the four affected Munson Road properties. The Independent will provide more coverage of that debate — and the related issue of how the town determines which water lines are public and which are private — in its Monday, Oct. 3 issue.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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